President orders state investigation into Ankara massacre

President orders state investigation into Ankara massacre

President orders state investigation into Ankara massacre

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L) and his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto review a military honor guard in Ankara. AFP photo

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has ordered the State Audit Board (DDK), an inspection body attached to the Turkish presidency, to conduct a special investigation into the Oct. 10 Ankara Massacre, which resulted in the deaths of at least 97 people. 

Erdoğan appeared before the cameras late on Oct. 13 for the first time since two suicide bombers murdered at least 95 others at a peace rally in the heart of the Turkish capital.

“We are deeply sorry for this grievous event, which happened before our nongovernmental organizations gathered to exercise their democratic rights,” said Erdoğan at a joint press conference alongside Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinistö. “I once again strongly condemn this terror attack, which targeted Turkey’s unity and its goals. This is an attack on Turkey; the target of it is our entire country and nation.”

The DDK probe will be conducted in parallel with a regular police and judicial investigation. The DDK has in the past probed state-sensitive issues such as the 2007 murder of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink. 

“There must undoubtedly be a mistake, a shortcoming in some place. Of what dimension? This will emerge after examinations,” Erdoğan said, adding that Turkey received intelligence indicating that the Ankara attack may be linked to Syria. “We received intelligence that there were some preparations for various attacks by entering our country. There is some intelligence that this has roots in Syria,” he said.

‘Those who blame the president for terror’

Erdoğan was in the Central Anatolian province of Çankırı on Oct. 14 to inaugurate a tire company, addressing people who had been brought to the rally. Erdoğan’s main agenda was Turkey’s ongoing fight against terror organizations, namely the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).

The three terror organizations, as well as the Democratic Union Party (PYD), an affiliate of the PKK in Syria, are the same in the eyes of Turkey, Erdoğan said. “These are all bloody-handed terror organizations who commit [violence] against our existence and future. Those who keep silent on one of these organizations and react only to someone else’s acts mean he or she is standing with terror,” he said.   

“What is the difference between the bomb Daesh [the Arabic acronym for ISIL] exploded in Suruç and the bomb the PKK exploded in Gaziantep [in 2012]?” Erdoğan asked, recalling two separate terror incidents. 

Erdoğan also criticized some groups in Turkey who ignore PKK terrorism. “These groups are doing everything to promote the PKK, other structures under this organization and their members,” he said. 

“Those who put the blame on the state, on the government and even on me for terror incidents should know that they are standing together the terrorist organizations,” he said.

Erdoğan’s name has been repeatedly jeered at funerals for the Ankara victims, with mourners holding the president and his ambitions for a super-presidency responsible for the security shortcomings that facilitated the bombing.